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Oscar Flashback: Roger Deakins Headed for 10th Oscar Nomination, Zero Wins

All props to In Contention‘s astute Oscar pundit (I’m sure he’ll hate that description) Kris Tapley  for pointing out that of Skyfall’s potential nominations — Sound, Sound Editing — Cinematography is certainly among them. Best Supporting Actor is also possible for Javier Bardem. Standing in Skyfall’s way overall? It’s really as simple as “Bond. James Bond.” It’s also a genre movie, and as we all know, the Academy no-likey the genre movie. I have long believed they should create a bigger category than just “Best Visual Effects” to honor the changing of the guard in Hollywood films to include a category: Best Effects-Driven Film. That way, they can honor movies that would never make it into their Best Picture lineup because of their own prejudices, but that deserve recognition as film achievements nonetheless.  Those movies this year would easily include: The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, The Avengers and perhaps The Hobbit. They have Best Animated and Best Foreign Language, they might as well acknowledge Best Effects-Driven.

But back to Roger Deakins. You might be surprised to look at his filmography and note when he didn’t win:

2011 True Grit –> Wally Pfister, Inception
2009 The Reader –> Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire*
2008 No Country for Old Men & Jesse James –> Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
2002 The Man Who Wasn’t There –> Andrew Lesnie, Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring
2001 O Brother Where Art Thou –> Peter Pau, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
1998 Kundun –>Russell Carpenter, Titanic*
1997 Fargo –>John Seale, The English Patient*
1995 Shawshank Redemption –>John Toll, Legends of the Fall

And the films he was never nominated for, here.

The conclusion: Cinematography goes with Best Picture when there is a near sweep of the categories. But when it doesn’t go to Best Picture it either goes to a strong Best Picture candidate as a consolation prize or else it’s totally off the wall, like Legends of the Fall. To beat Deakins now, though, you have to either sweep or be a movie that almost wins Best Picture, or has strong enough support in the Academy to overcome what is now an embarrassing oversight.

Vids after the cut.

Deakins winning for Skyfall after losing for No Country for Old Men, Jesse James, Kundun and The Man Who Wasn’t There is like Al Pacino finally winning for Scent of a Woman, but hey, better late than never.

The competition is fierce, with Lincoln, Les Miserables, Life of Pi and Cloud Atlas all strong cinematography contenders.

37 Comments on this Post

  1. Roger Deakins and Thomas Newman are probably my top 2 people I most want to finally win an Oscar. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything about Newman’s score for “Skyfall.” Not good?

  2. Jesse James and Fargo were “should have won” for Deakins. Haven’t seen Skyfall yet, but winning will be tough this year, I’m afraid.

  3. Worthy of a nomination, atleast. It was the only thing good about Skyfall

  4. unlikely hood

    He’s still everyone’s favorite DP. He might not be after he finally wins. I dunno, Scorsese sorta took his eye off the ball after he finally won (except for Hugo). Maybe just as well to keep Deakins’ eye right there.

  5. Roger Deakins did some wonderful work on a little seen film called “White Mischief” with Charles Dance and Gretta Scacchi in the 80s (two other underrated artists who have never received Oscar noms). Deakins should have received an Oscar nomination for that film. It was beautifully shot.

    And for my money, Thomas Newman should have won Oscars for “Little Women”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Oscar and Lucinda”, and in the most glaring omission of all, for helping to write the music to Mary K. Blige’s “Living Proof” in last year’s “The Help”.

    I think his score for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is really one of his best, so I am hoping he will be nominated for that film this year (and FINALLY win his well-deserved Oscar). My only hope is that Thomas Newman won’t go the “Randy Newman” route and be rewarded for some lackluster, unmemorable piece of music (just to alleviate the collective AMPAS guilty conscience).

  6. Definitely should have won for “Fargo” and “Kundun”, not only are Titanic and The English Patient worse films, but the cinematography in those is incomparable to what Deakins did in those years. Tis a shame.

    Don’t think his first win will come for a Bond film…no matter how good Skyfall might be.

  7. There Will Be Blood’s win is deserving but just LOVE Deakins’ work on Assassination of Jesse James.

  8. William Best

    Deakins should get a nomination for Skyfall, it was shot beautifully!
    Also Javier Bardem should get nominated for best supporting actor for Skyfall!!! He is just as good as Heath Ledger was in The Dark Knight

    Nominations I would give Skyfall are:
    Best Original Song
    Best Editing
    Best Sound Editing
    Best Sound Mixing
    Best Cinematograhpy
    Best Visual Effects
    best supporting actor: Javier Bardem

  9. Roger Deakins winning an Oscar for Skyfall would not be like Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman. It’s not a consolation prize. He thoroughly deserves the nomination at least – it’s gorgeous work. I’m not even sure he’ll get that much, though. The field is so strong this year (it is every year at this stage, I suppose) – The Master, Lincoln, Anna Karenina, Life of Pi, Les Miserables, The Impossible, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild. But it stands as good a chance as many of those.

    Thomas Newman’s Skyfall score is fine. Not his best, but fine.

  10. caleb roth

    You don’t give this award to a Bond movie when you have the last 70mm movie ever and a probable digital 3D landmark, like Life of Pi. Deakins’ work in Skyfall is nice, but it doesn’t belong to the top 10 of his best works.

  11. To sharpen the point just a tad, the Academy is fine with some genre films — Westerns, War, Adventure, Gangsters. Strictly speaking, even Epics constitute a definable genre.

    Genres that the Academy doesn’t much appreciate are Action Films, Horror and of course Sci-Fi. They even have trouble coming to grips with Comedy.

    There’s a bigger issue for a Bond film. The Academy has a historic disdain for Franchise Films.

  12. Tero Heikkinen

    I wonder how well Skyfall will do in USA, I predict an easy 200+ million dollars. In Finland it became the biggest hit of the year in less than two weeks (passing TDKR, The Avengers and the likes), and no other film can beat that, not even The Hobbit.

    Skyfall is killing in Europe.

    I don’t see many nominations still. 2 or 3 tops (and Bardem is definitely not one of them).

  13. Haven’t seen Skyfall. But if Deakins is nominated it won’t be a surprise this time if he doesn’t win. So much good work this year. Robert Richardson is the frontrunner to me.

  14. “Yes!” on White Mischief, keifer – great work in that one. I vaguely remember a bored and depressed Sarah Miles throwing open the curtains and grumbling the likes of, “another fucking beautiful day,” which thru Deakins eyes, it was.

  15. I wouldn’t call ‘Legends of the Fall’ a completely off-the wall choice.

    Also, Caleb, it is not impossible that more 70mm films will be made, even if it’s for documentary projects like Samsara.

    And even if you were true, your argument is still not very strong because it reads like case for rewarding technology over filmmaking. That plus the fact that some people may be wondering why out of all the films “The Master” had to be in 70mm.

  16. “My only hope is that Thomas Newman won’t go the “Randy Newman” route and be rewarded for some lackluster, unmemorable piece of music (just to alleviate the collective AMPAS guilty conscience).”

    That’s way too strong. Actually, “guilt” probably had little to do with anything especially since he won for two songs (and the first is not half bad). They just picked what they liked more.

    I am actually a big fan of Randy Newman’s work on “Princess and the Frog”. Really awesome songs.

  17. Maxim:

    Too strong? Really ? ? ?

    I can’t even remember what he won for, let alone some of his Best Song nominations.

    But I will say this STRONGLYY (tee hee): Randy Newman’s score for “Avalon” should have won the Oscar that year.

    Newman’s score for that film is really very moving and, along with “The Natural” score, is one of his very best.

  18. John Seale deserved to win for English Patient, he won every major award that year because his work was simply mesmerizing.
    Even if Deakin’s work in Fargo was very good, the only year he deserved to win was in 2007 for Jesse James but again Elswit’s work in There Will Be Blood was gorgeous.

  19. Rudi Mentär

    I really loved the cinematography of Inception. Pfister deserved to win this.

    And Teko ist right. Skyfall will do very well in Europe. They love the Bond-Franchise here a lot and especially Skyfall is so much fun even to people who are not that into this franchise. But Bond and Oscar? I don`t know. I hope Deakins will get a nomination for that. It really is a stunning cinematography. Without framing the pictures like a painting it captures light and atmosphere as no one else could do it, who has not the talent and experience like Deakins does. Amazing. A completly new standart for a Bond movie.

  20. Question Mark

    This is such a tough category. Deakins probably should have at least one Oscar and certainly deserves it, but man, looking at that list, it’s not like he lost to a bunch of stiffs — nothing but beautifully-shot films amongst the winners.

    Bardem as a supporting nominee is an intriguing idea. Haven’t seen the film yet, but the Academy is certainly getting more open to genre films in the supporting categories; had Die Hard been released in modern times, Rickman definitely gets nominated now, for instance. Bardem is an Oscar favourite and ‘Bond villain’ is certainly a showy role.

    Man, how star-studded could this Supporting category get? Tommy Lee Jones, Leo DiCaprio, Don Cheadle, Russell Crowe, PS Hoffman, McConaghey and now Bardem?!

  21. K. Bowen

    Skyfall is easily one of the year’s best films and should receive a Best Picture nomination. Skyfall is the exact sort of high-end genre film that the more-than-five-nominees system was supposed to reward. I’ve been in favor of the extended field, but if all it is going to do is honor more upper-middlebrow Oscar folderoil, then what’s the point?

  22. I saw SKYFALL earlier today. It’s probably the best made Bond film ever. Even though there was something un-Bond about it to me. I think I’m thinking of the classic Bond films when I say that. To me there’s a definitive break in style between LICENSE TO KILL and GOLDENEYE. I was looking at Sam Mendes’ name during the opening credits and I realized I actually don’t know who directed the other Bond movies. I never paid attention before. Were any of them renowned directors or just guns for hire?

    Anyhoo, I thought it was the best looking Bond film by far. It also has one of if not the best opening credits sequence. Do they have an award for that stuff? I know I wanted WATCHMEN to win an opening sequence award a couple years back. But in this case I mean the opening credits along with Adele’s song.

    Bardem I don’t think will get in. Personally I’ve been out of best supporting actor spaces for months. lol But with a category like that in a year like this, and he’s recently awarded? No way. I mean I’d be super shocked if he did. He was great but he didn’t even have that many scenes either. I liked that they went with the Zorin style even if he looked horrible with that hair. I’m expecting him to have a red perm in his next movie.

    By the way, there are a lot of great shootouts this year. The first one in SKYFALL was awesome. Mainly because of it’s participants but it was also choreographed wonderfully. I need a shootout award too.

  23. I was on the set of the Lucy Liu vampire movie “Rise,” of which John Toll was the DP and heard him described as a “legend.” I wasn’t following the Oscar race in 1995, but was his win for “Legends of the Fall” totally random, or had Toll built a name for himself at that point?

  24. Just saw Skyfall tonight, and was absolutely blown away. Deakins more than deserves a nomination, and, IMO, should be a contender for the win; almost every single shot was so beautifully-composed.

    Bardem should be considered for Supporting Actor, as should Judi Dench for Supporting Actress; this is easily her best turn as M, and given the best material of any Bond film she’s been a part of. Unfortunately, genre films like this are rarely considered as serious Oscar contenders, which is a shame because, in terms of what the film was aiming to achieve within the limits of the genre, it’s about as close to perfect as I think a Bond film can get.

  25. If I had my way, Skyfall would immediately go on the shortlist for Best Picture. For my money, Skyfall is, and may very well end up being, the best film I see all year.

  26. with the snub of CR they MUST give SF att least 2 noms! if there’s any truth in this world

  27. Tero Heikkinen

    matt: I remember that year very well and Legends of the Fall winning was not random at all. It was the frontrunner to win Cinematography.

  28. Skyfall’s nighttime highrise sniper scene was gorgeous and disorienting at the same time, and London has probably never looked better (or more austere) on film. Didn’t know Deakins was the cinematographer going in. But it’s very tough competition this year.

  29. Outside of some extreme back-lighting , most of Deakins work in Skyfall is nothing to brag about. Conservative setups , a ridiculous amount of medium close ups , many scenes too filled. He’s an awesome dp , but in here he went for typical eye-pop , with very little inconsistency.

    Skyfall is bottom of the barrel for Deakins. I dont thinks it deserves any sort on nomination.

    If we’re talking about popular movies , Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises are much more impressive from a technical point of view.

    I think it should be between Mihai Malaimare or Pfister. I havent seen Life of Pi but i bet Claudio Miranda will be nominated.

    Cloud Atlas looks good but it has two different teams , so it will be difficult.

  30. I saw the movie yesterday and oh boy, Deakins deserves more than a nomination. I’ve seen a lot of films on theaters and this was the first time I attended to watch a movie where both me and the audience said “wow” a lot of times because of the Cinematography. Its just really expertly crafted stuff.

    About the movie, its the best film I’ve seen this year and without a doubt the best bond film. I cried at the end, and I fucking never cry!

  31. About the 0 wins. At least he has 10 nominations. A guy like Christopher Doyle has…0. None. Nada. Not a single nomination. Doyle is a dp that belongs to a very restrict list of cinematographers… in the entire history of cinema.

  32. Finally saw Skyfall and although good I wouldn’t call it the best Bond like critics have been saying. I think in terms of Craig as Bond Casino Royale is still his best. I will give it to Roger Deakins as deserving of an Oscar nomination. There are too many other good films still waiting to be seen (Life of Pi, Les Mis,The Hobbit, Anna Karenina) for me to say he should get the win. I do 100% believe he deserved the win it for The Assassination of Jesse James. That film was just absolutely beautiful.

  33. 2007 was a great yr for cinematography, but I thought deakins work in the Assassination of Jesse James … Was the best work of the yr.

  34. Skyfall is AWESOME!!!

  35. Scottish Jellyfish

    Skyfall was an excellent film, but I didn’t initially think Deakins was deserving of a nomination early on in the film. It’s not until Shanghai when Deakins gets to shine. The cinematography in Scotland is where he truly takes it to another level. Absolutely stunning. I use to live in Scotland (obviously), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it attracts people to visit after how the Highlands are framed in the film.

  36. Antoinette,

    To answer your question, Mendes is by far the most prestigious director the franchise has ever had. Typically Bond directors have had little effect in what is generally considered a producer-led series, though the two most notable highlights are Martin Campbell who directed both Goldeneye and Casino Royale, successfully relaunching the franchise both times, and Terence Young, the director of Doctor No, From Russia with Love and Thunderball, who basically created the big screen persona of Bond working very closely with Connery. It’s been said that Connery was doing a Terence Young impression.

  37. You’re going to propose an effects driven picture of the year category and not mention Looper.

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